Los Alamos and partners test ionic liquids to break bacterial biofilm layer and save lives
Like a protective tent over a colony of harmful bacteria, biofilms make the treatment of skin infections especially difficult. Microorganisms protected in a biofilm pose a significant health risk due to their antibiotic resistance and recalcitrance to treatment, and biofilm-protected bacteria account for some 80 percent of total bacterial infections in humans and are 50 to 1,000 times more resistant to antibiotics than simpler bacterial infections.
Artist’s rendition of a cross section of skin layers (stratum corneum, epidermis and dermis) showing topical application of an ionic liquid for combating a skin-borne bacterial infection. The ionic liquid can be formulated with antibiotics for transdermal drug delivery or it can directly kill the bacteria infesting the skin surface. (Credit: Peter Allen, UCSB)
“In essence, we may have stumbled onto a magic bullet,” said David Fox, a Los Alamos National Laboratory researcher on the project. “Through a robust screening strategy, our research team has identified a unique class of materials, known as ionic liquids, which both neutralize biofilm-forming pathogens and deliver drugs through the skin,” he said.
“We extended our current capability in antimicrobial platforms with ionic liquids to new heights by partnering with Dr. Mitragotri at UCSB, who is an expert in transdermal drug delivery platforms. The merger made perfect sense,” stated Fox.
“In several cases, we found the ionic liquid was more efficacious on a biofilm than a standard bleach treatment and exhibited minimal cytotoxicity effects on human cell lines (unlike bleach). This has excellent prospects for aiding antibiotic delivery to the pathogen through biofilm disruption but, most interestingly, the ionic liquids themselves are quite effective for pathogen neutralization,” Fox said.
This work could have especially useful applications for military medical treatments, he noted, where soldiers in the field can be exposed to bacterial infections that are particularly difficult to treat.
Biofilms often persist in the periphery of an actual wound, beneath an intact, healthy skin layer and the difficulty of their treatment is largely due to the outermost layer of the skin, the stratum corneum, being a natural barrier for drug delivery.
“If the bacterial biofilm can be disrupted, delivery of antibiotics is greatly enhanced, and any dispersed pathogens are generally restored to normal antibiotic susceptibility,” said Fox. “Further, many bacterial infestations in wounds penetrate under the outer skin layer, the stratum corneum, and deep into the tissue (epidermis and dermis). These materials are able to penetrate through the skin and effectively carry antibiotics to the deepest layers.”
“Clearly, the ionic liquids would be of special benefit to our warfighters where exposure to biological agents in hostile environments is likely. Topical application as a prophylaxis or direct treatment to an open wound could buy enough time to reach the proper medical facilities when in an austere environment,” he said. Importantly, ionic liquids can be derived from very cheap starting materials that are FDA approved and are extremely stable to high temperatures and pressures, which are necessary traits for commercialization in real-world applications.
In a groundbreaking manuscript appearing this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, as part of a multi-institutional effort between Los Alamos, University of California Santa Barbara, Dixie State University and Northern Arizona University, researchers explored exploiting ionic liquids both in a concerted effort to combat antibiotic-resistant bacterial biofilms in skin, as well as for topical transdermal drug delivery. The comprehensive strategy resulted in the identification of ionic liquids that are effective at disrupting biofilms, neutralizing pathogens, and enhancing delivery of antibiotic into skin.
Biofilms are a major cause of chronic wounds and wound degeneration. Wounds from infected surgical incisions result in 1 million additional hospital days. Additional causes of bacterial infected wounds include traumatic injuries, as well as diabetic foot ulcers, venous leg ulcers, and pressure ulcers.
The total economic burden of skin disease was estimated to be approximately $96 billion in 2004, and the prevalence and healthcare costs for skin disease have been increasing over the last three decades. Bacterial infections in the skin are among the most common diagnoses in hospital patients, accounting for some 10% of all hospital visits. Staphylococcus aureus infections acquired in hospitals, which account for only 16% of nosocomial infections, are estimated to result in $9.5 billion in extra patient costs and 12,000 deaths annually.
The comprehensive approach is unique in that the team examined a panel of in-house synthesized ionic liquids and enabled the discovery of one ionic liquid, choline-geranate, which showed excellent antimicrobial activity, minimal toxicity to epithelial cells as well as skin, and effective permeation enhancement for drug delivery. Specifically, choline-geranate was comparable with, or more effective than, bleach treatment against established biofilms of Salmonella enterica and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, respectively. In addition, choline-geranate increased delivery of cefadroxil, an antibiotic, by >16-fold into the deep tissue layers of the skin without inducing skin irritation.
Authors: Michael Zakrewsky, Vivian Le, Samir Mitragotri (University of California, Santa Barbara), Katherine S. Lovejoy, Theresa L. Kern, Tarryn E. Miller, Amber Nagy, Andrew M. Goumas, Rashi S. Iyer, David T. Fox (Los Alamos National Laboratory), Rico E. Del Sesto (Dixie State University, St. George, UT), and Andrew T. Koppisch (Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ).
Funding: This research was funded by University of California, Office of the President Grant 12-LR-237080. FTIR was performed in the Materials Research Laboratory (MRL) Shared Experimental Facilities, supported by the Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers Program of the National Science Foundation (NSF) under Award DMR 1121053. A patent application has been filed on the syntheses and biological applications of the ionic liquids.
Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a team composed of Bechtel National, the University of California, The Babcock & Wilcox Company, and URS for the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.
Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.
Nancy Ambrosiano | Eurek Alert!
Custom-tailored strategy against glioblastomas
26.09.2016 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
New leukemia treatment offers hope
23.09.2016 | King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
Optical quantum computers can revolutionize computer technology. A team of researchers led by scientists from Münster University and KIT now succeeded in putting a quantum optical experimental set-up onto a chip. In doing so, they have met one of the requirements for making it possible to use photonic circuits for optical quantum computers.
Optical quantum computers are what people are pinning their hopes on for tomorrow’s computer technology – whether for tap-proof data encryption, ultrafast...
The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.
“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...
With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.
Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...
For the first time, Fraunhofer IKTS shows additively manufactured hardmetal tools at WorldPM 2016 in Hamburg. Mechanical, chemical as well as a high heat resistance and extreme hardness are required from tools that are used in mechanical and automotive engineering or in plastics and building materials industry. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden managed the production of complex hardmetal tools via 3D printing in a quality that are in no way inferior to conventionally produced high-performance tools.
Fraunhofer IKTS counts decades of proven expertise in the development of hardmetals. To date, reliable cutting, drilling, pressing and stamping tools made of...
At AKL’16, the International Laser Technology Congress held in May this year, interest in the topic of process control was greater than expected. Appropriately, the event was also used to launch the Industry Working Group for Process Control in Laser Material Processing. The group provides a forum for representatives from industry and research to initiate pre-competitive projects and discuss issues such as standards, potential cost savings and feasibility.
In the age of industry 4.0, laser technology is firmly established within manufacturing. A wide variety of laser techniques – from USP ablation and additive...
23.09.2016 | Event News
20.09.2016 | Event News
16.09.2016 | Event News
27.09.2016 | Information Technology
27.09.2016 | Machine Engineering
27.09.2016 | Physics and Astronomy